Joachim Awuley Lartey aka 'Over To You' Joe Lartey
The word 'ace' is thrown around to describe young broadcasters these days. So how would you describe the 86 year old retired broadcaster, a household name in the 80's and 90's, the head of GBC Sports - Over to You Joe Lartey?
A sheltered upbringing
For somebody who was shielded from the boarding school, withdrawn from playing in the school band and generally over-protected by his loving father, the last place Joe would have ended is holding the attention of the country as a sports journalist running commentary at GBC. But that is where he eventually ended.
He remembers how he ran away from Accra Academy at age 16, to join the British Navy in 1944. Clearly, a child soldier. He would have caught the attention of the The United Nations Children's Fund - UNICEF if it were today.
But Joe says he was motivated to do this after listening to Winston Churchill's war speeches during the second world war. He was also watching some British Navy officers march on the beach in Cape Coast and reading Robinson Cruise. These culminated into an "irresistible hunger for sea life".
His father "nearly went mad" after hearing his son had left home. After losing his younger son, he would have been thinking that the older is gone.
Joining the Navy
But joining the navy was his life's best moments. In there, the seeds of broadcasting was sown, the flair for public speaking was carefully honed in as his watery choppy audience and submerged sea creatures listened to him give impromptu speeches.
He confessed that his best moments on earth had been spent on the sea.
For some people, the best moments in life is not the light, it is in the dark where talent is preserved and developed, so that the spot light is as certain as the greenlight on a traffic pole - well, if there is electricity all the time.
The easy-going Joe suggests that he never allows circumstances in life to wear him down, whether it's his car that broke down or an unfortunate event, he has learned to laugh at the world.
Broadcasting at GBC
He was poached from the teaching profession after a friend at Ghana Broadcasting Coporation, highly recommended him to management. And he was poached for free- something unthinkable in the media today as presenters, broadcasters get huge poaching fees to another media organization. And there was no market premuim.
You would want to know that the ace broadcasters' ace broadcaster who was bonded to teach for five years, broke the bond as he unceremoniously left teaching to became what we all know him to be.
He reported to work at GBC on 1st January 1961 - new years day- as a senior programmes assistant on a six-month probation.
He began doing summaries on matches during the 15-minutes half-time break. Then he started 30-minutes break until he was permitted to do a full match commentary.
He remembers one particular commentary - a match between a Republicans and Real Madrid in 1962. The match with only 3 minutes left was 3-2 against the Republicans. He said an amazingly worked -out equalizer stunned the fans in the stadium. "Silence descended onto the pitch " he recalls and adds that everybody including the commentators stopped talking.
Joe Lartey describes his wife on the first day he met her during a teacher's party. She was "beautiful, black with gleaming white teeth". And although she is two years older Joe Lartey, a self confessed "bad chap" says he didn't need a ladder.
He found her to be well brought up and a very strong woman. So on that fateful day, he asked her to dance with him and they have since been dancing at a two-persons only party called marriage.
Joe 'Over to you' Lartey's favourite song is Redemption Song by the late Bob Marley. And he tried to sing the words in the studio to disastrous effect.
But the man who still does regular exercises, who has tasted three careers spanning some sixty years - a sailor, a teacher, a broadcaster - has seen enough of what life offers and gave his best to what he offers to life.
So come next month, the veteran radio broadcaster Joachim Awuley Lartey aka 'Over To You' Joe Lartey, will be honoured with an Awards ceremony named after him.
It will be known as the ‘Over to you Radio and TV Sports Broadcast Excellence. And even as he rounded up his interview, the man still cannot help appreciating that life has been "a lovely day".